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Follow the money: Why messaging is disrupting payments

Messaging is a „winner takes all“ business.

Nobody wants to have three apps to communicate with friends and family. If your peers are using one platform, you are likely to follow – a classic network effect.

That’s why in every country the most used messaging platform is leading the messaging field by a large. In most countries that is WhatsApp, Messenger comes second.

All big messaging companies are now on a mission to claim a new territory: payments.

Three simple drivers:

1)  The opportunity:

  • One of the main characters of currency is that it is used by everybody and easy to handle. Messaging apps are used by nearly everybody to send and receive information – so why not extend it to money?


2) WeChat paved the way

  • One of the main drivers behind WeChat’s success in China is payments
  • Today WeChat is already where all other messaging companies strive to be. They dominate P2P transactions, business to consumer and even offline payments by using QR codes. WeChat pay is everywhere and basically replacing peoples wallets completely.  
  • On last year’s Chinese new year 46 billion “ virtual red envelopes” (it’s a Chinese tradition to send money in this red envelopes) were sent via WeChat.


3) The Amazon effect:

  • Once a platform has a user’s credit card details and set up a convenient payment method, it is the starting point of rolling out many more services around commerce and content. he value of every new user acquired skyrockets and so does the platform’s.


Here are a few facts on how the space is evolving right now

Kakao Talk

  • Messaging app Kakao Talk (42 mio user) launched Kakao Bank as a separate app and corporation but using the network effect of Kakao Talk.
  • On its launch day 300k users signed up and over 50 Mio € were put in deposits.


  • WhatsApp rolled out their beta-payment feature to around one million users in India this month.


  • ApplePay is a success story most people tend to overlook. Launched in October 2014 it’s now accepted in 50% of all shops in the US. According to ApplePay’s VP Jennifer Bailey,  “It’s the world’s most accepted contactless payment technology.“
  • In November 2017 Apple soft-launched P2P money transfers to iMessage in the US


  • The VP of Messenger at Facebook is David Marcus, a former president of Paypal. That underlines their ambitions pretty clearly.
  • Messenger already launched the possibility to send and receive money from your Facebook friends in 2015 in the US and in the UK and France last year.
  • Despite the early launch, the Messenger team worked on anything but pushing their payment feature. In that new environment and their quickly growing business platform, (chatbots) that might change quickly.


The biggest problem for any platform

Every payment solution needs to eliminate the threshold that is needed before users feel confident to enter their credit card data.

It is not surprising that Snapchat’s Snapcash did not succeed with a user interface where everything you send or receive disappears after seconds.
Such an environment is designed to create more privacy for shared content, but not more trust for transactions. Table stack for transactions is security, reliability and transparency for the sending and receiving party.

iMessage and ApplePay are very well positioned to become the digital wallet of iOs users and to disrupt payments in the next few years.

Facebook with it’s two messaging platforms WhatsApp and Messenger still has two big advantages against iMessage. First, it’s running on iOs and Android. That more than doubles the market and strengthens the network because Apple users can transfer money to Android users. Second, they have two different platforms to figure out what works best. Facebook is very well known for testing and learning fast.

The marketer’s cheat sheet to Facebook’s latest newsfeed change

What change?

Facebook announced major changes to it’s most central product, the Newsfeed, on the 11th of January. Facebook will begin prioritizing posts from friends and family over public content and posts from brands.

Why it matters?

Brands have spent millions in the past years to build an audience on social media. These dollars won’t pay off. The organic reach on social media is finally moving toward zero.

Why the change?

  • Be smart: that change is not about the fight against fake news or propaganda: it’s a product change.
  • Facebook knows that even the best curated news app is not as sticky as the social network is. Especially younger audiences are already spending a lot of time with Facebook competitors such as Snapchat, Youtube, WeChat and others. To compete with them, Facebook is going back to their roots.
  • The focus on meaningful interactions is the metric Facebook uses to try and stay the most relevant app on our phone for the next years .

Was this unexpected?

  • The honest answer is: No. Brands saw a decline in their organic reach for years. The latest benchmarks were between 1% and 5% of organic reach per public post. Facebook is an advertising business so it was clear that this won’t change for good.
  • Publisher have been seeing a rapid decline in organic reach since June. In addition, recent experiments with a completely new kind of feed indicated there was something more to come.

What about Instagram?

  • Instagram has a different feed algorithm than Facebook so it won’t be affected.
  • Be smart: Instagram already has the approach Facebook is now taking.

„All the data supports that if you follow more friends and engage with your friends, your activity goes through the roof. If you just follow more celebrity content or more interest-based content, that doesn’t move the needle at all.“

Kevin Systrom, Instagram’s co-founder



What about Messenger & bots?

Messenger and bots are one of the big winners. Today already more than 200k public pages on Facebook are connected with a bot to the Facebook Messenger Platform. That is likely to increase even more rapidly in the next months. Here is why:

  • Using that channel brands don’t rely on the newsfeed and can rather shoot a message directly.
  • The conversational approach of bots is now the best way to facilitate the meaningful conversations and engagement Facebook wants to promote
  • With bots, brands can use Facebook for transactions. It’s the opportunity to make much more out of the hard-to-reach audience rather than hoping for a like under a public post.

Who else is a winner?

  • Vertically integrated brands: they are probably able to still spark meaningful conversations on Facebook.
  • Videos will become longer and more of them will be live. Live video creates 6x more engagement and creates the conversations Facebook wants
  • “Paid social” marketers now have the assurance that social is always „paid social“ and not „social“ or „content marketing“ marketers get more responsibility and likely more budget.

Ready for take-off – The ultimate checklist before you launch your chatbot

Every week I talk to some of our customers to prepare for the launch of  their chatbot. It is part of Spectrm’s service to check the most important aspects of launching chatbots, and it’s my job to help make it successful from the very beginning. Here are the most important things chatbot creators need to ask themselves before they launch:

Is the chatbot engaging at first sight?


It is tempting to explain every single aspect of your chatbot, every single possibility and way to interact in the very first message. Don’t do that. What you should do instead is make your audience interested and enable them to give it a try. You can always introduce  all the amazing features you have built later on in the process. When you create your onboarding message, think about how to get the user really interested and curious. You could do it with a simple, actionable question like “So Gavin, are you a nerd for politics?”. If the user clicks no, that’s a great opportunity to showcase other options. What you have done though, is created an interaction from the very get-go. And this is only the start – you will do far more down the line.

Do users know why they should sign up to your chatbot?

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Your users like your content, like your brand and want to engage with you. That’s fantastic. So why should they sign up for your chatbot? For you, it’s a great way to stay in touch with customers and present them with your very best content. What is in it for them? It is really important to make sure they understand the difference to the other ways they find your content: facebook, twitter and website are the most important ones. If you don’t have a concise answer to this question, I have very bad news for you: it’s back to the drawing board of your entire concept. But if you do: make sure your users know about it. Even better: explain the value of your chatbot compared to the medium you are promoting it on.

How will users find your chatbot?

Most platforms for chatbots haven’t quite cracked discovery. You will need to find nifty ways to let users know about it. The most important aspect here is to find ways to make it as easy as possible, the general rule of thumb being: the less clicks you need, the more users will give it a try. The most effective ways to get users to sign to your Facebook messenger for instance are:

  • From your website: the “send to messenger button”
  • From your Facebook page: the cover image
  • From the timeline: the “message”-post format

Make sure to think this through. There is no point in having a chatbot if no one knows about it. And I can’t say this often enough: just because you have one, doesn’t mean that users will magically sign up. If you you need a little more guidance, read this.

Have you prepared for the “meaning of life” questions?

It’s a great start to create automated responses to questions that you know your users are currently asking your social media team. However: we have found that users absolutely LOVE to try and trick the chatbot and find the hidden “Easter-eggs”. For some reason users are asking the Spectrm chatbot how old she is. Others have experienced that users ask for the meaning of life and other questions that are not related to their company. This is exactly the reason why you should present  at least a few questions and answers from the beginning. hecking down the line what your users are writing, you will be surprised. If they are trying to test the chatbot, and are pleasantly surprised, that’s exactly the kind of positive experiences that are unique to chatbots. They are memorable and shareable: that’s what you want.


Can users opt-out of your chatbot?

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I know you don’t like to think about this as you are currently ecstatic about your launch and are strategizing on how to get to the first million users. There’s a practical reason you want to make it easy to opt-out though: users can just block you if they don’t want your content anymore . And whilst no one except Mark Zuckerberg himself knows exactly what happens a lot of users block a chatbot, from a technical point of view, we are pretty sure that is not a good thing.

There’s another reason though: spamming people is bad. Only idiots do that, and you are not an idiot. If some people don’t like your chatbot, that is absolutely fine, so let them go. There’s no reason to try and lock them in if they don’t like it. Focus on improving the experience for the users that do. In some cases a user will hastily opt-out, maybe because you sent them a little too much content at once. If you have done a good job before, the user will at some point check back, so you will want to ask yourself…

Can they easily opt back in?

It is quite common that users get used to your chatbot’s daily digest, morning briefing, or whatever format you are using to distribute. If a user checks back to the chat-window – what do they see? Is it a “k bye” kind of message? It should probably be something like: “Sorry to see you go. We would love to hear your feedback on how we can improve and if you change your mind, you can sign back up by clicking the button below.” If the user has received a positive message like this, it is much more likely that she will want to interact with the bot again in future


Needless to say, none of this will work in the long-run if you haven’t created a great chatbot in the first place. But if you have, I hope this gets you on the road to success. Chatbots are a completely new field to most people, so there is more than enough room to experiment, iterate and improve.

7 clever ideas to launch a chatbot campaign on social media

You’ve launched your bot. Well done! Now how do you get people to interact with it enough to prove its value and get the word-of-mouth rolling? More specifically – how do you market it?

Bots! Bots! Bots! – but why?

Let’s take a look at the environment today. In 2012, 63.1% of internet users were also social network users and these figures are expected to grow. That is a fact that most brands are (should!) be aware of. However, broken experiences still move people from social to websites, and from websites to emails. As well as making the customer journey long and tiresome, this also serves to make brand seem unapproachable – especially if we’re talking about customer service.

Social media is defined by content – however, with the latest updates to the Facebook algorithm, about 2% of your audience will get to see the content you so tirelessly worked on. No matter how good your content is, not all blogs or videos get to become viral – especially if your audience is small to begin with. And yes, that is even if they liked your page.

In addition, with 3 million apps available, smartphone users spend about 80 percent of their time on just five apps – notably Facebook, WhatsApp and Snapchat. Meaning that if your next plan was to create an app and hope that users install it, unless you pose a threat to one of the five, then your investment might as well go somewhere else.

So what is your best alternative for getting your content out to the audience that matters and is interested in what you have to say?

Facebook is now giving you the option with Messenger Bots. If your fans interact with your bot or subscribe to what your bot is sending, you will be able to send them personalized messages that can advance your relationship. For brands that means the dual-benefit that content goes in front of the right, interested eyes – while the same time furnishing audience insights. Fans are actually telling you what they want to read about!

“If you want to get people to download an app now and turn on push notifications, good luck. We have app and notifications overload, so the ability to build that experience in Messenger and reach your customer base and manage the whole lifecycle is a very powerful thing,” explained Facebook VP of messaging products David Marcus.


“If you want to get people to download an app now and turn on push notifications, good luck.”

– David Marcus, Facebook VP of messaging products

You are probably already experiencing bots published by online media. I myself get a curated message from both the Techcrunch and Business Insider bots.

Jan-02-2017 16-38-00.gifBeing able to personalize my requests by adding different keywords, I now get such tailored-made content that I am looking forward to their message every day. And this is the exact feeling you want your audience to experience. When was the last time someone said that about any brand’s Facebook posts or emails? The exceptions are increasingly rare, as there is an overflow of newsletters and posts, all probably filled with relevant content. However, with limited time in a day, and a packed inbox or Facebook feed, it’s hard to filter.

But good bots can do that for you, on a much limited investment than an app, and with a higher degree of efficiency since people opt in to your updates.

3 qualities of a good chatbot

  1. Useful – probably the most important thing to consider. Making bots for the sake of saying you have a bot is the wrong approach. Your bot should solve a problem for your audience, or it should add to the overall experience they have with your brand.
  2. Easy to use – while bots may still be in an incipient stage, the interaction flow should be intuitive. Start from the premise that users will not spend more than a few seconds trying to figure out how your bot works. Make it clear, drop clues and hints and most importantly test it out on several people.
  3. Reinforce your brand’s personality – no matter what type of bot your are using, the conversation should reflect the brand voice. If your bot is a separate endeavour, such as Poncho, then make sure to bring some life into it by creating a persona.

The value of chatbots for consumers

It’s all about exclusive, highly personalized experiences users can get – anything in the form of exclusive content, competitions, timely and 24/7 customer support and many others. For example, Pizza Express tested the potential of a chatbot with a bit of fun over the holidays. The famous pizza chain created the bot-based game Shake The Tree, in which visitors to their restaurants scan Facebook Messenger codes placed on tables, play the game and get the chance to win prizes including free pizzas and Dough Balls. The game proved to be a success bringing in 75,000 players in the first two weeks and is expected to reach 100,000 by end of week three (or around 7% of Pizza Express’s customers). .

A bot with a similar purpose but without the viral appeal of a high-stakes competition is Trim, a financial advisor bot that helps people with their tasks.

Trim owners claim that the by reminding users of their subscription fees, Trim has saved them over $6,000,000.


How do you actually bring the chatbot to the masses?

1. Bot-centered campaigns: One of the first things you can consider is simply making a post notifying the audience about your new development. However, to better reach your intended market, you can consider boosting the post or creating an ad targeted to specific audiences most likely to use your bot. Specialized tools can help you create these very specific targeting options. Be sure to highlight why people should interact with your bot (consider the exclusive content mentioned before – for example, why not think of a quiz?).

2. Conversation-centered posts: With new CTAs for posts, you can also create Facebook posts and campaigns tailored to starting conversations.15870447_1229583027121349_1682521537_n.png

3. Facebook has also recently added new CTA buttons for Company pages. The “Contact Us” CTA can indicate to your fans that you are ready to start a conversation.
4. Used in a creative way your cover picture can also turn into a CTA. By adding a marking signal pointing to your actual CTA button, or simply using the photo to showcase the bot can be powerful ways to get some much-needed awareness.

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5. Use the Messenger QR-code as profile picture with link in the description to draw attention to your presence on messenger

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6. Embed Messenger buttons, provided by Facebook, into your website to enable anyone who clicks them to start a Messenger conversation with your company (like the one you see below this post). 
7. Use customer matching by reaching people in Messenger via their phone number. Conversations started in this manner will be received as message requests by fans and the dialogue can only continue with the person’s consent.

That bots will be big in 2017 and beyond is fact not supposition. More and more brands are queueing up to use bots in new and creative ways. There has never been a better time to put your brand on the map with the help of chatbots. Want to get a better understanding of how bots can help your business? Or do you have a creative idea ready to take Messenger by storm? Then contact Spectrm.


Boost chatbot engagement by learning-from Alexa and Siri

At its F8 conference this year, Facebook made it clear it’s betting big on Messenger chatbots. With 1.71 billion monthly active users and more than 18,000 bots reported to date, Messenger could turn into a goldmine for Facebook if monetization enters the mix. Indeed, chat apps look set to be the next big thing in marketing due to their 1:1 conversational model, mobile-first design and potential for handling the bulk of customer interactions – but we’re not there just yet. may be the next big thing, but being a first-mover comes with its own set of advantages and disadvantages. As a customer-facing technology, the risks of alienating audiences are high. Nevertheless, there are already some success stories that we can mention. Boarding passes from KLM, weather reports from Poncho and updates from Business Insider are already available in Messenger. I for one receive my daily dose of tech news from the TechCrunch chatbot every morning at 5:43 AM.

The pitfalls of trail-blazing

The early days of Snapchat and Instagram demonstrated how difficult it can be for early adopters to find the right strategy with untested new channels. Nevertheless, being among the first to find the right mix can lead to significant traction and high rewards. It’s up to each brand to choose whether to risk being among the first-movers, or wait to learn their lessons.

The good news with bots is that marketers already have Apple’s Siri, Microsoft’s Cortana and Amazon’s Alexa as examples of how to integrate them into the customer journey. These virtual assistants were the first to mainstream the use of artificial intelligence to create conversational experiences between people and machines. Marketers need look no further for some solid inspiration.

To bot or not to bot, and how much?

With sparkly new channels there is always the temptation to ply audiences with as much content as possible. However, with Facebook Messenger this mistake could prove not only costly, it could seriously damage the brand-consumer relationship. Direct messaging has traditionally been a more intimate line of communication between friends and acquaintances – chatbot overkill would directly contravene this convention/point of etiquette.

Can you imagine your Siri telling you it might be time to upgrade your software? Or Alexa asking you out of the blue whether you would like to buy a book from Amazon? If brands become a chatty nuisance they’ll be quickly blocked or unfollowed.

Alexa is a good example of a bot with real user value. Consumers enjoy and use it for a host of applications such as playing music, asking for news updates and managing devices.

Brands need to establish a clear chatbot value for their customers, then ease into sending messages with fingers poised over the ‘stop’ button. Facebook appears to be doing this right by making sure that the user is in control. In a recent blog post, Product Manager Seth Rosenberg wrote: “All conversations between businesses and people must be initiated by the person receiving the messages (unless otherwise subscribed to), who can then mute or block the business at any time.”


This may beg the question, how do we get people to initiate conversations with us? But this has been the social marketer’s challenge from the beginning. After all, bots are simply yet another new form of engagement. The big difference being that we can no longer just hope for virality and reach, it’s now on us to inspire fans to start the conversation. The main motivator to do this is still the same as ever: clear value delivered at the right time and place in the customer journey.

Now here comes the kick with Facebook Messenger – say you succeed in convincing users to initiate contact, Facebook has made it clear that its new Messenger API will only allow businesses to send messages to these users for a 24-hour period, and once more after that. This is to ensure enquiries can still get a reply or re-engagement.

Facebook’s move reinforces the key value of chatbots, at least for the moment, as social customer service and support tools rather than ads and content pushers. They represent the ideal solution for brands handling a high volume of repetitive or basic enquiries.

The human touch

Brands may not need to create chatbots on the level of the Scarlett Johansson-voiced ‘Samantha’ in the film ‘Her’ – in which Joaquin Phoenix’s character falls in love with his virtual assistant – but a human element is much more than a nice-to-have.

Siri, Cortana and Alexa can all answer a multitude of questions that have nothing to do with their core service. Have you ever asked Siri what the meaning of life is? Try it, you’ll be pleasantly surprised. Funny interactions foster personal relationships with a brand and also demonstrate that bots can go beyond functionality to be interactive experiences as well.

If a bot’s main response to questions is, “Sorry, I didn’t understand that”, the experience becomes a lot less sticky. A few basic questions can be a start and brands can measure whether they resonate with users. Who knows, maybe your followers actually will fall in love with your bot someday.

The next evolution in one-to-one engagement

With bots, marketers have the opportunity to shape the future rules of interaction and customer expectations. Facebook may still keep a watchful eye, but brands are essentially free to set the tone and pace of the conversation.

In time artificial intelligence may help drive best practice and ensure brands send customers only relevant updates at the right times. But we’re not there yet. Until then it’s largely a question of judgement mixed with the willingness to experiment.

One thing is certain though, chatbots are not only here to stay, their role in customer engagement is set to explode over the next few years. The machines really are taking over. How will your brand fare in bot-world? Whether you want to be a first-mover or follower, the time to lay the groundwork is now.